He that is born of flesh is flesh, and he that is born of the Spirit is spirit. There is a spiritual side to us, which is more important than our physical side. In everything as Christians, we must act from and by the spirit.
Our heavenly account is of more importance than our earthly account and we must consciously pay attention to its operation.
Yes we all have a heavenly account and Jesus warned that we pay more attention to this account than we do to our earthly account. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
That means you can lay up treasures here on earth, and you can do the same thing in heaven from your time on earth!
“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens.”(Luke 12:33)
When bank accounts were held in bags, Jesus taught that there was another bag account in the heavens.
Paul also referred to this account in the admonition to the church in Philippians: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”(Philippians 4:17)
So, we all have a heavenly account. This account is operated in similar ways to how we operate our bank account. You can make deposits and withdrawals at will. But like Jesus said, the account in heaven has major advantages:
It is not subject to loss of whatever kind: no economic upheaval , inflation nor financial system collapse can affect it.
It gives more than monetary returns and for me this is the greatest. Most people lay too much emphasis on “cash”, but the blessings of God maketh complete/whole. It ensures we don’t have emergencies- that means you will not suddenly have a need or an issue you do not have the capacity to meet. It ensures provision and need come side by side. When there is a need, then the resource is available. When you make deposits in this account, a penny with you achieves so much compared to a million in the world. I tell you it is a typical case of give five loaves and two fishes and have more than enough supply to feed a multitude and still have excess! And whatever you cannot afford in a sense you receive for free! A pastor once explained this phenomenon to me in another light; he said even when he does not have the “asset “he always has “access”. Wow! There are a million and one things all the money in the world cannot give you. But the proceeds from your heavenly account gives you access to them.
Another benefit is that your heavenly account is managed by God. And no one gives better returns than Him. Your deposits keeps speaking and bearing fruits.
I am blessed by the story of Cornelius told in Acts 10. Apparently when the time came to pour out the spirit on the Gentiles, God started with a man who had made constant deposits to his heavenly account. “His prayers and gifts to the poor came up as a memorial offering before God”. At that time he was unsaved, but God still kept a record of all the deposits he ever made and rewarded him with the Gift of Gifts!
So how do you make deposits and withdrawals into this account we all have?
As long as the earth remains, seed time and harvest will not cease! Deposits are made in seed time. It is giving time. Anytime we give, we make a deposit into our heavenly account.
Phil 4: 15-17, our seeds or giving is a direct deposit to our account.These accounts can abound and increase through giving to the poor (Proverbs 19:17) Giving to the poor on earth makes an instant deposit in heaven. Jesus said whatsoever you do to the least of them, you do directly to Him. Making any type of investment into the preaching of the Gospel (Mark 10:29,30) and giving simply as praise to God are also deposits to the heavenly account.
So Luke 12:33 says “sell that ye have, and give alms, provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 also says “charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on to eternal life.”
If all you have is a heavy earthly account then your tomorrow is uncertain. Money has failed to save anyone. So focus on your heavenly account through giving, and lay up in store for yourself a good foundation for the time to come.
If giving had no returns I will still give. I cannot imagine a life where I cannot share my resources, my time, my talents and the gift that God has made me, and put in me. Life will be without worth if I cannot give and receive a smile, a hug and a prayer from another person. But thanks be to God because we can make withdrawals from our heavenly account and receiving follows giving.
Let everyman be a liar, God remains true. The scripture cannot be broken. Our deposits are securely received and multiplied by God. Many have been taught to give, but few Christians expect or know how to receive and withdraw from heaven.
But God who cannot lie affirmed that as we give, it shall be given back to us, good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give to our bosom. And also affirms that He is able to make all grace abound towards us that we always having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work!
The first step to making withdrawals is to have the confidence and consciousness that you have an account you have a right to at anytime. This is key; confident faith and a consciousness. This should lead to an unwavering expectation. Expect always a return on your investment. When you go out, expect to be blessed because men giving to your bosom is a form of withdrawal.
Expect things to work for you. When men fail all over, you win because your account has to be multiplied for you. In Malachi,God said test me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you down a blessing there will not be room enough to receive it. It’ is confident faith, consciousness and an unwavering expectation at all times that we use to withdraw from heaven.
And finally make verbal demands on your account. Exploit the power of your tongue. A man shall eat good by the fruits of his lips and by the increase he shall be satisfied. When you need anything call it. Say you have it. I have should replace I need. Your faith produces the consciousness which creates an expectation. And out of the abundance of that expectation your mouth speaks forth. That’ is how you make a withdrawal. Be conscious of that. God expects you to expect to receive. He expects you to draw on your heavenly account.
You have an account in the heavens. Use it well. As ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace of giving also. (2 Corinthians 8:7).
We are blessed.
Emmanuel A Aladenusi
A lesson from saying ‘I love you’ in advance Bible Reading: Phil 3:13
My wife once told me that I had not said ‘I love you’ to her for some days. So when I got to my office the following day, I picked up my phone, dialed her number and said ‘I love you’ to her for 14 times. Hmn! What’s this all about, she asked. I told her my reason – I do not want to bother saying ‘I love you’ in the next two weeks so I decided to say it in advance. You need to have heard the way she screamed.
It’s the same way you would behave if I told you to take your bath 30 times today so you will not bother doing so in the next 30 days or … to eat 90 square meals today so you would not bother eating for one month. It doesn’t make sense right? But why do we do so when it comes to spiritual matters and the things that have the greatest effect on our lives? Why do we study the word, pray hard and live rightly only in some seasons? If food is to the body what God’s word is to our mind, then you can imagine how sickly and skinny many of us are today. Do you not think it is time we took positive actions about our spiritual growth?
Beloved, in the last 6 months we have discussed on Spiritual Growth. Perhaps you read most of the messages and agreed with them. But please do not stop there. Practice these principles every day. We cannot afford to go to bed any day without having absorbed some ingredients that will facilitate our spiritual growth. Consistency is the key word. Don’t try to do it in advance or make up for it. Always make a conscious effort to grow up spiritually.
I love you and I passionately desire that you continue to grow spiritually.
– tope aladenusi
Having the target in mind Bible Reading: Galatians 4
It is commonly believed that if you do not know where you are going, you may not be able to tell when you get there. One of the most potent driving forces for achieving success is to be able to see your destination clearly. The wear and tear of this life isn’t really worth it unless you are going to somewhere very great. Not only that, you are able to tell when you get there.
The same thing applies to our desires and efforts to grow spiritually. We have to clearly see our growth target. What exactly are you aiming to achieve as far as your spiritual growth is concerned? Does it fall in line with the verses of scripture below …?
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” Galatians 4:19 (KJV)
“… until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard”. Ephesians 4:13 (GW)
When we got born again, we received the fullness of Christ in our spirits (John 1:16); our old nature died and we now have a new nature (II Cor. 5:17); our new life is exactly like Christ (I Jn 4:17). But according to Gal 4:19, there is another labour we need to go through, until Christ be formed in us. What does this mean? The Message translation puts it clearer – “…until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives”
Beloved, Press on … until your lifestyle fully reflects your new life; until your disposition totally reflects your position in Christ; until your city experiences what was experienced when Jesus was in Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem … ; until the fruit of the spirit is constantly displayed in your life; until everything you do revolves around God’s agenda; … until Christ be formed in you.
– tope aladenusi
Ever-increasing Desire Bible Reading: Psalm 42
I will always be grateful to God for one of the fellowships I attended while in the university. We gave persistent tribute to the contents of the bible. We saw it as a manual for our lives and we read it day and night. We advanced to a point where we could quote nearly every part of the bible offhand. At a time, we started reading the bible in the original languages – Greek and Hebrew. So if for example, you quoted I Cor. 14:4, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself”, we could say something like … The word edifieth in that verse is from the Greek word “oikodomeō ” which means to build up. In short, we were called “word men”. But as we continued along this word journey, I noticed two sets of people …
Some set felt they had arrived as far as the word was concerned. They believed they have successfully torn the word into pieces and digested every part. Pride and arrogance started gaining foothold in their lives and as time went on; their lifestyle could not match the word; their prime ability was to be able to accurately tell when someone misinterpreted the word.
The other set of people reminded me of one key attribute of a believer that is growing spiritually – they had an ever-increasing desire for God and the things that facilitate spiritual growth. The more they knew God, the more they wanted to know him. The more God’s power and virtues were evidently displayed in their lives, the more they appreciated the fact that they were just touching the fringes of His power. The more they studied the word, the more they realized they needed to always stay with the word.
Whether in that my campus fellowship or not, the truth is that we see this kind of stuff almost everywhere. When a man thinks he has finally arrived as far as spiritual growth is concerned, and stops paying attention to things that facilitates his growth, he is already backsliding. The man who wrote majority of the New Testament books once made this statement in one of his books – “My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead” Philippians 3:13 (CEV). What about you? Have you arrived yet?
– tope aladenusi
|Powers of Discernment Factor Bible Reading: I Timothy 3
It is no longer news that life is not a game of chance. It is becoming very obvious that man make choices, and his choices end up making him. Who we are today is a reflection of some of the choices we have made yesterday. The choice of friends, profession, school, business partner, spouse, church etc., have affected who we are more than we can imagine.
Many Christians are very aware of this and so it not surprising to see them going for counseling sessions or reading various materials on making the right choices. In the last one and the half years, over 95% of the requests for counseling we have received on this website have been centered on making the right choice on a particular subject. I have been opportune to read counsels by most of the Lifeline Counselorsand I know they have been of great impact to the counselees. But this will not be our finishing point. We know that as believers, we can find ourselves in a position where we require a quick counsel from another believer, but we are to grow to a state where we make the right choices by default. This will come effortlessly if we all continue to grow spiritually.
Hebrews 5:14 (ALT) sheds more light on this – “But solid food is for [the] mature, for the ones having, because of practice, their powers of discernment having been trained to discern [between] both good and evil”. Matured believers have their powers of discernment sharpened to make the right choices because of their continual practice of the word of God. It comes habitual and natural because they are growing spiritually.
It is not only the so called big choices (e.g. career, marriage etc) you make that affect your life. Every choice you make on a daily basis steers your life to a particular direction. That is why you have to consciously gyrate to the point where your powers of discernment send the right signals to your life. You have to constantly give yourself over to those things that will facilitate your spiritual growth.
– tope aladenusi
|The fruit-sign Bible Reading: Galatians 5
Imagine you saw an usher in your church laying hands on a paralysed man, and suddenly the man leaped to his feet and started walking, what would be your reaction?
“Hey! That usher is a great man of God!”… “He has really gone far”. “…He should not be an usher in the first place”. “…Oh God! When will I grow to that point?” These are examples of what I hear Christians say when they see a miraculous work performed by other believers. They are quick to conclude that such works are a result of spiritual growth and advancement. But the bible says “These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues … they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.” Mark 16:17-18
Demon-casting, tongue-speaking and sick-healing are not signs of spiritual growth but are tendencies of every believer. If you are a believer and you have not been experiencing these things, you are like a fish that sees swimming as a strange thing or a sign of maturity. The same thing applies to our perception of the gifts of the spirit. I Cor 12:7-11 says “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge …; To another faith …; to another the gifts of healing …; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; … But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The underpinning principle here is that the Spirit distributes his gifts as he wills and not based on a believer’s spiritual growth. The manifestation of spirit is given to “every man” and not only to “every growing man”. Remember immediately after the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), they started speaking in tongues and healing the sick, though they were babes in Christ at that time. So we need to adjust our thinking and stop seeing the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit as a sign of spiritual growth. That will save us much trouble in the church because we will no longer see these gifts as a fast track to the office of a pastor or a basis for feeling that we are more advanced Christians.
On the other hand, the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer is a proof of spiritual growth. It is the tendency in our lives that surfaces when we yield to the workings of the Holy Spirit. It is similar to apple trees. You do not see their fruits immediately after the apple seeds were sown but after the apple trees have grown. Gal 5:22-23 says “the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.
Imagine a life where the fruit of the spirit is always displayed, then success will be a lifestyle. For example, nearly every marriage counsellor you meet will tell you that you need two things to succeed in marriage – love and patience. I do not hesitate to remind myself that these virtues are fruit of the spirit. They are not what you get from outside but what you experience when you subject yourself to the influence of the Spirit on your inside. You can now see how spiritual growth is tied to nearly every success in a Christian’s life. Beloved, please always give priority to your spiritual growth.
– tope aladenusi
Get into the extreme boat Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5
One of the reasons why we have many detestable differences in Christendom today to the point that almost every sect seems to be striving to outplay the other is because many Christians are busy pursuing their personal agenda. For example, a minister may have a personal agenda to use his church as an instrument to build his conglomerate. It will not be surprising to see such a minister cook up several messages and devise many underhanded means in order to achieve his dream – the conglomerate. Although this may be done skilfully in a way that many will still regard him as “a man of God”
Hey! That was just for illustration purposes. So let’s put illustration aside and place you on the hot seat. Are you out there pursuing God’s agenda or your personal agenda?
Oh! I remember when I got born gain, most of the messages I heard then were centred on “the man God uses”. I was instructed that “the love of God should compel me because since he died for me, I should no longer live my life to myself but for him who died for me” II Corinthians 5:14 (paraphrased). Today, most of our learning seems to be centred on “the man who uses God”. We are constantly devising selfish agendas and praying tooth and nail to see them come to past. That’s one reason why we are experiencing so many competitions within the body of Christ. Think about it, if we were all pursuing God’s agenda, we will naturally gravitate towards the same direction because God is not an author of confusion.
The Message Translation of II Corinthians 5:14 says it clearer – “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everythingwe do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat”. Wow! This verse swells my head! First, there is a good extreme point that every Christian should be – An extreme where we acknowledge that his love should be the principal driver of our lives; an extreme where we just find ourselves in the same boat which is large enough to convey all of us. Can a boat be moving in two directions at the same time? If only we would focus on realizing God’s agenda…
Do you know that you do not own your life? Do you know that God has a purpose why he created you and it is your responsibility to identify and work towards fulfilling that purpose? Does everything you do revolve around your God-given purpose?
That’s one way to know if you are growing spiritually. Growth will open your eyes to always see the major reason why you are on earth. It will enable you to be committed to God’s agenda. It will make you always feel at home in that extreme boat where everything we do revolves around God’s agenda. It will tilt you to the angle where you proclaim like Apostle Paul that “Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us” (2 Cor. 10:13 NLT).
We have been considering the question “How do you know you are growing spiritually?” and I want you to also know that – A life not mindful of God’s purpose and agenda is a life that is in the nest of spiritual childishness. It is getting more obvious that the body of Christ needs to focus on growing up spiritually.
– tope aladenusi
|Oneness Mentality Bible Reading: Ephesians 4
Today, it is not strange to see Christians forming sects and cartels within the body of Christ. When you chat with most of them, you hear them say things like … “I can only worship in this denomination”; “Oh! I hate people that attend that Church”; “That church is really backward”; “Oh! Thank God for us, He has chosen us among other churches to be the custodian of doctrine”; “God forgive me! But everyone in that church seems to be on their way to hell” …, etc. But do you know that the way you perceive other Christians (especially those not in your local assembly) and relate with them is a good test for you to know whether you are growing spiritually or not.
The conceptualisation and proclamation of church denomination is an expression of spiritual immaturity. The early Corinthians church behaved in a similar way and here is how Apostle Paul addressed them:
“You are not yet spiritual… Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn’t that how ordinary people behave?” I Corinthians 3:4 (CEV)
In our day, this attitude has grown worse to the point that it appears very normal to see people in our “denomination” or local assemblies as the real Christians and others as inferior or struggling Christians. Isn’t it ridiculous that the Apollos and Paul of our days are busy doing God’s work and those following them are busy proclaiming allegiance to them? It gets more terrible when it is the Paul and the Apollos that see themselves to be in competition.
Beloved, God doesn’t regard the intent behind most of the sects we have formed or are forming in the Church, which is the body of Christ. He thinks differently and those who are growing spiritually will think like Him. He says in Eph 4:4 “All of you are part of the same body”. Yes! Whether Methodist, Protestant, Baptist, or whatever. In the mind of God, we are one as long as we profess faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God also has this “oneness approach” in dealing with us. For example, Ephesians 4:11-12 says “And indeed He gave some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; with a view to the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ”.
Did you see that? The bible did not say he gave pastors or evangelist for the building up of the Catholics or Baptists, but for the building up of the entire church. Therefore, even though we are working through local assemblies, we will naturally possess this “oneness mentality” if we are growing spiritually. We will not see the church as a competition ground and see people in other churches as opponents. We will turn off our local mentality and appreciate the global reality that instead of us specializing in snatching members from other churches, we should be snatching unbelievers from the devils kingdom. Spiritual growth will help us understand that differences may always exist between us, but we should focus more on our origin – God, our mission – evangelism, our destination – heaven, and join hands to expand the kingdom of God on earth. We will begin to see every true minister of God as someone who has a role to play in the church of Christ.
It is not just enough to decide right away to always watch your speech carefully to ensure you do not manifest the denomination spirit? That may be good for a short time but it’s like placing the cart before the horse. It doesn’t work most times. Change usually comes from inside out. Pay attention to your growth – study and revolve the word regularly, pray in the spirit and put to practice what you have learnt. I have written this so you would have one more criterion to test if you are growing spiritually based on some manifestations in your life. If you realize that you are not growing, just work on your growth and the childish tendencies like “denomination attitude” will effortless abscond from your life.
– tope aladenusi
Check-up from your feet up Bible Reading: II Corinthians 13
Are you growing spiritually? How do you know if you are growing spiritually? Do you know that it is almost impossible for you to remain stagnant? It is either you are progressing or retrogressing. For you to know whether you are growing spiritually or not, you need to constantly examine yourself with the right basis. For example, some people may feel they are growing just because they have been able to do some ‘church things’ that their friends do not do. That’s a wrong basis for gauging spiritual growth because the bible says in II Cor. 10:12 (MSG) “But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point”. So we must be careful we do not miss the point in attempting to fulfil the biblical instruction – “Test yourselves to make sure you aresolid in the faith … Give yourselves regular checkups” II Cor. 13:5 (MSG). Regular check-up of our entire life is absolutely necessary. In the next few weeks, I will share some parameters that we can use to perform these regular checkups.
First, the way you perceive God and his love will go a long way in revealing to you whether you are growing spiritually or not. God expects us to increase more and more in love towards him and other people. But you will agree with me that it is difficult to advance in what you do not understand. For instance, it will be very difficult to advance in the accounting profession if you do not understand the basics of debit and credit. Similarly, when we have little or no understanding of God’s kind of love, we cannot love like God, which is a key attribute of spiritual growth.
If you also rate God’s love based on the material things you are able to get or not get, it is a sign that you need to do a serious work on your spiritual growth. When your desires and prayers are mainly centered on material things to the point that sometimes you even doubt God’s love and faithfulness because you haven’t gotten those things, then you need no prophet to tell you that you are a babe in Christ. For example, a child that is not given biscuit by his father may think his father doesn’t really love him whereas it will be strange to see that mindset with a 25 year old son. Isn’t it surprising that many of us still cry over “biscuits” despite several years of knowing the Lord?
Hey, don’t be like some people who after giving them such example, they start watching their speech to be sure they do not mainly bother God for material things. Some others start struggling not to feel bad towards God if material things show up late. However, if you realize that you are still exhibiting such babyish tendencies, be true to yourself and be grateful you now know your level. You may even continue with the way you relate with God and be sure to focus more on your growth. This is because your speech, desires, prayers and mindset will change effortlessly when you continue to grow. Just spend time applying the ingredients of spiritual growth which you have learnt from this series and you will be amazed at the drastic change that will happen in your life. We will continue next week.
– tope aladenusi